Attitude Adjustments, Be Happy, Coping, Do something, Doing your best, Happiness, Uncategorized

I’m Doing the Best I Can

Well, it’s spring break, and it’s been a bit of a different kind of week off for me.  Usually, I spend spring break with a few days at the beach, a lot of cleaning and organizing, and my youngest daughter comes to visit if she can get a few days off from school.  Well this year…..the planets are aligned differently I guess. It’s been nice, but different.  I’ve had another doctor’s appointment (ugh!), with yet another adjustment to my meds.  I’ve been to the farmer’s market with my husband, and to a couple of local museums (you just can’t beat buy one get one free coupons!).  We’ve fixed a television and a toilet.  I’ve studied for, and passed, another three hour test for my post licensing real estate course.  I’ve rested a lot.  I’ve scared a snake……he scared me first.  I’ve been annoyed with Facebook and the data breach.  I’ve watched a lot of television shows that I enjoy.  I’ve tried to organize a few things around the house.  That’s a slow process, but I’ll get there…..maybe.  Otherwise, you might find me on an episode of Hoarders!  Just kidding!  I’m not anywhere near that….yet!  So I”ve been able to get a few things accomplished, while relaxing.  Nothing exciting at all, but I’m doing the best I can, and it’s exactly what I need.

I used to think that needing to be busy and doing something was important for the time off from work.  And it is….but that something may involve just going for a walk to get fresh air, or watching movies and relaxing, or reading a book.  Teachers work hard.  I spend an hour and a half in the car every day for a commute.  I’m enjoying the peace and quiet away from my busy, lovable 1st graders!  Besides, having a chronic illness has forced me to make changes.  I’m not missing out on life, but I do have to adjust! Even though my activity level has changed, the week off still seems to be flying by! But part of me still feels like I should be doing something.

Part of these lifestyle changes have involved a bit of guilt.  I feel like I screw up fun for other people.  I can’t have things too loud.  I get tired easily.  I need to hold onto things or people for balance.  I feel dizzy and light headed most of the time….some people will say it matches my personality! And my head hurts!  I may not be the life of the party, but if you tell me to walk across a room unassisted, I am the party!  I’ve never been one to need to be the center of attention because of an intense social anxiety problem, but I’ve always enjoyed being out and about, and doing things.  I like meeting people in the right setting.  I like learning about people, and new places.  So making lifestyle changes is hard.  I would guess it would be similar to trying to eat healthier, exercise more, or stop smoking or drinking. Those seem to be pretty common and relatable, and we need to support anyone who is just doing the best they can.  Have you ever been out to eat with someone who is on a diet?  Or at a party where alcohol is being served with someone who is struggling to stop drinking?  It’s hard for them, but we support them.  They’re doing the best they can.  That’s all we can ask of them.  No guilt.

So I guess I need to stop putting guilt on myself, and remind myself daily that I’m doing the best I can…..that’s doing something.  No one else is going through exactly what I’m going through.  Sure, other people have had this condition, and I’m so grateful to my friends who are there for me to answer my questions (especially my friend Karen from college!).  But no one knows what I deal with daily, just as I don’t know what they deal with.  I would assume that everyone is just doing the best that they can, no matter what their circumstances.  That’s all we can ask of each other.

If I’m grumpy, it might be my best for that day.  If I’m sleepy, it might be my best.  If I’m goofy, it might be my best.  If I seem fine, it might be my best.  If I want to walk around a quiet museum, it might be my best.  If I’m confused or in pain, it might be my best.  I have to stop allowing myself (and others) to make me feel like I’m lazy or rude or not pulling my weight if I am unable to do more.  So this week, what might seem like a mediocre, boring spring break to others is my best, and it’s exactly what I need for me.  If we are all doing our best, then we should all get along just fine, right?  How about we all do our best for support, understanding, and not judging what we don’t understand.  I promise it won’t cost a thing, and it might make life a lot easier.  Do your best for you, and don’t feel guilty for it.  That’s doing something.

 

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Art, Be Happy, Clutter, Collecting, Decorating, Eclectic, Happiness, Uncategorized, Unique Personalities

Is It Clutter, Or Is It You?

Our brains and minds and lives are full of stuff we don’t need.  The world is full of information and stuff.  Clutter.  Does it do us any good? Is it comforting?  I have been able to trim things down and get rid of things that I felt held no sentimental value.  But what is considered to be clutter to some may be someone else’s whole life.  I’ve watched the show Hoarders, and am glad I am not attached to paper bags and broken pencils, but I’m sure some people wonder why I have some of the things I have! Now that I’ve said that, I am in no way a hoarder! I do know a few people who I feel may have a problem with “collecting,” but that’s not me.  Getting through my house is very easy!

At one point in my life, I had a 2800 square foot Victorian home, built in 1886, with beautiful woodwork, leaded and stained glass windows, pocket doors, tall ceilings, etc.  It was full of big furniture, and since I had three children living with me at the time, it was also full of toys and games.  I wouldn’t trade those memories of my children for anything, but I never want to have a big house, or that much stuff, ever again.  I’ve downsized, and de-cluttered, and now live in a smaller (1700 sq. ft.) home.  It’s a “cookie cutter” home, but we’ve made it ours with our unusual style of decorating and things that mean a lot to us.  From where I sit right now, I see the American flag from my father’s memorial service, that belongs to my son. I also see the American flag that flew at my grandparents’ home in China in the 1930’s.  Things like that are priceless because they can never be replaced, holding so much sentiment.  I also see a cabinet with some of my old toys and dolls,  and some of my grandmother’s and mother’s dolls.  Again….most of those things can’t be replaced.  They are worth nothing to anyone else. There’s the piggy bank my Grandpa Penry gave me when I was 4…..and my Grannie Slater’s salt and pepper shakers…..my first Barbie…..my Raggedy Ann……a few old Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars…….I have very specific memories of most of these things.  They’re put away nicely and neatly in my cabinet……..not worth much monetarily, but they mean a lot to me.  Over in the corner is my Grannie’s chair that used to sit in her dining room, next to her telephone…..I can see her sitting there, talking to various relatives or neighbors…..I also remember standing on it to call my sister to help me with a mouse when I was at Grannie’s alone (she didn’t help me…..something about not wanting to drive all the way across town to pick up a dead mouse!  Sheesh!).  Family.  History.  There are pictures everywhere……the kids, our parents, grandparents, places we’ve visited, the park where we were married in New Orleans……there can never be too many pictures! We also have a ton of books….I’ve had to clear out a few of those too, but many belonged to our parents, my grandparents, and even great grandparents.  Some are treasures from places we’ve lived or visited…..more memories.

These things are not clutter to us.  They are our lives, our loves.  I don’t need the latest gadgets in the kitchen, my furniture is old (and comfy), I have some older pieces of furniture that belonged to my parents, that I’ve painted or refinished.  Our cars are not new (and not paid for!), but we have our little treasures. Al’s collection of African masks in the hallway, along with the wall of family photos, remind us each day how diverse and eclectic our tastes are.  But they represent us, and who and what we love.

Our home will never look like a designer showcase home.  I wouldn’t want it to.  I watch the home decorating/renovating shows, and get a few ideas, but I would never want our home to look like everyone else’s.  While Pinterest is interesting, and has some really pretty decorating ideas, those ideas will look like everyone else’s house.  I’m sure people come into our house and wonder what in the world they have stepped into…..but they can never come away from our house saying it’s boring!

Having a home like this also reflects our personalities.  Have you ever been in a home that is stark and boring with no character?  Nothing personal?  To me, this usually indicates a boring personality too!  What do you like?  Where have you been?  Where do you come from?  Do you love your family?  Your friends?  Your life?  My husband and I definitely have unique personalities!  We love to have fun, travel, and make new memories.  We are building our life together, and bringing our happy times from the past along for the ride.  The places we’ve lived and have visited….the people we’ve met, and have loved…..have made us who we are today.  Why wouldn’t we want our home to reflect that?  Why shouldn’t our home be uniquely ours?  We are unique.  Our story is unique.  Our home is our sanctuary, and where we share our life together. It’s us.  But stuff isn’t what makes us happy.  We have all we need.  If we lost it all tomorrow, but still had our health and each other, we could still be happy.  Some people never learn this.  They just want more stuff.

Make your home yours.  Your “clutter” is unique to you.  And if it’s in your heart, or part of who you are, is it really clutter?  Or is it really you?  It may be just stuff to some, but don’t let anyone tell you that it holds no value if it’s part of you. If it is comforting to you, and if it holds memories or sentimental value to you, then be proud of it.  Enjoy your clutter” if you love it!

 

Be Happy, Happiness, Love, Uncategorized, Valentine's Day

Love Is In the Air

Well, tomorrow is another Valentine’s Day, and I have seen the retailers trying to cash in for several weeks now.  It’s really getting bad with the pressure to give just the right thing……or give to the right person, just because the commercials tell us we must.  While I really do love this special day, and what it represents….LOVE…..I don’t feel like anyone should feel pressure to “out give” or keep up with someone else when it comes to gift giving.  I also hate how it makes others feel left out or unloved if they don’t have a significant other.  That really isn’t fair.  I have been in that situation, and I believe it’s also called, “Singles Awareness Day.”   Funny, but kind of not.

Sure, every woman wants flowers.  I will take flowers any day of the year!  Fortunately, my husband brings me bouquets of flowers pretty often.  But I am just as happy with a sweet card, a favorite treat (usually Hot Tamales), or a nice dinner out.  I don’t need jewelry.  I don’t need huge bouquets of flowers delivered to work (although that is fun sometimes!), and I don’t need a new outfit.  More than anything, I appreciate the time I get to spend with my husband, because this time of year, he is so busy with his referee schedule that I barely see him.  I appreciate that he’s a hard worker, but he really is burning the candle at both ends, and it worries me a bit for his health. Having said that, he will be refereeing tomorrow night, so our Valentine’s Day dinner date will have to wait until the weekend.  It’s okay…I’m pretty sure I will still love him by then, if not more!

Valentine’s Day has become so expensive, but also cheapened in how it is approached.  You should buy cards and gifts for those you love because you want to, not because you feel obligated to.  The same can be said about Christmas….it’s become all about money.  Don’t spend money because the commercials and stores tell you that you have to! With the way our society is, and how busy and preoccupied we are with work, family, technology, and social media, why not give the one you love your undivided attention, and write a nice letter telling them how much you love and appreciate them?  Spend time making a romantic dinner.  Go for a walk together.  Turn down the lights, put on some soft music, and dance together. Go for a drive.  Those things can’t wear out.  Those moments can’t be thrown away.  Make memories with each other.

I know that at this point in my life, I try to make a special effort to let my Valentine know how I feel about him every day of the year.  Cards don’t have to wait until a special day.  Candy and flowers don’t have to wait until a special day.  Make every day count, and don’t take each other for granted…..sounds cliche’, but it does hold value.  Make this a great Valentine’s Day, and then make the day after that another great day of love!  And the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that! Love is in the air!

“Live every moment, Laugh every day, Love beyond words.”

 

Be Happy, Be Kind, Being Strong, Courage, Family, Happiness, Iowa, Laughter, Love, Marshalltown, Iowa, Passion for Living, The Queen of Iowa, Uncategorized

Here’s To The Queen!

I’d like to tell you about The Queen……not the Queen of England, but The Queen of Iowa!  You didn’t know there was one, did you?  This queen is someone I’ve had in my life since I was 19 years old, and has been like a second mother to me, even though I don’t get to see or talk to her much anymore.  I’ve been thinking a lot about her lately…..

Joan Yvonne Wendt Williams…..The Queen.   I will get to why she has that title later, but for now, I want to tell you why she deserves it.  Joan was my mother in-law for 23 years, and is the grandmother to my children.  In fact, I was the one who made her a grandmother for the first time in 1989!  Her son and I may not see eye to eye on much of anything, and the divorce strained the whole family relationship, but I still consider her my family, especially since I’ve lost my own mother.  When you lose your mother, you lose a huge part of yourself. And when you divorce, you also lose another part of your family.

From the first time I met her in 1984, wearing my bathing suit (aghhh!), she was friendly, warm, and loving, and acted like she had known me my whole life.  For the first few years of knowing her, she was in an unhappy situation with her marriage.  Through hard work, she came through it on the other side, stronger, more independent, and happier.  It was hard for her to take that step, but she did it, and she has deserved every day of peace and happiness it has brought her since. She stood up for me several times in some uncomfortable situations during that time period, and I have never thanked her for that, even though I appreciated it so much.  I’m not even sure she would remember doing it because it is so second nature for her to do that sort of thing.

She was raised in a small town in Iowa, married young, as most girls did in the late 1950’s, and raised 4 children.  She lost a child shortly after birth, which I know is still painful for her.  I’ve been to the cemetery with her a few times to place flowers or pinwheels on her daughter’s grave.  She has talked to me about that time, and I could feel the pain myself through her words, even though she was so strong and composed telling me about it.  This is just one of the few things that made her such a strong woman.

Her own mother in-law, Florence, was a good woman, and was good to her too, but…..difficult.  I knew Florence well, and I always got the feeling that no woman would ever be good enough for her sons.  Yet, with Joan…..any man would be lucky to have her!  Joan told me once that she never wanted to be that type of mother in-law to me.  I feel thankful to her for that.  It sure made life easier!

We grew closer over the years, and always enjoyed having a beer and pizza together.  The laughter and friendship we shared can never be replicated with anyone else, but two of my children are now to the age where they can sit down and enjoy a good drink with their grandma and laugh the way we used to.  She and her oldest daughter, Lisa, used to make a trip to see us about twice a year….once in the fall, and once in the spring, when we lived in Kansas.  Lisa would bring her step daughter sometimes, and always had her dog in tow.  It was fun, but Joan hated driving through the Kansas City traffic before getting to our house!  It stressed her out to no end!  The very first thing she would say after her hugs and kisses all around, was, “I need a beer!”  I tried to be fully stocked on beer when Grandma Joan came to visit!

I will never forget the time I heard my 4 year old daughter say, “Oh damnit!” when she dropped something.  I said, “Lily, we don’t say that.”  She looked at me confused, and said, “We don’t?  Grandma Joan says it!”  Now my own  five year old grandson is repeating Great-Grandma Joan’s salty language that he picked up last summer.  Of course, it isn’t appropriate, but I can’t be mad.  In fact, I think it’s pretty funny……if Joan has taught me anything, it is to not be stuffy and unhappy, even when life is hard.  Learn to laugh and let go.  Don’t be angry.  Smile.  Don’t hold grudges.  Have fun.  Don’t take life so serious.  It’s short, so enjoy it.

These days I hear she enjoys her boxed wine while getting her daily fix of Drew Carey and The Price is Right!  One of my daughters was telling me that Grandma loads up her walker with beer, and meets with friends at the Embers, her retirement apartment building, for “coffee.”  I got such a chuckle out of that!  She has always known how to have a good time!  Whether it’s playing bingo, trips to the casino, watching her favorite soap opera or TV show, or “coffee” with her friends, she always has fun!

The last time I saw her, I was able to introduce my husband to her.  She hugged him, and told him that if I loved him, then he was okay in her book!  Before we left, she hugged him again, and told him to “take care of my girl.”  He promised he would.  After we left, he said he wished we could have stayed because he could have sat for a few hours, having a few beers and talking with her!  Now that I’m sick, she continues to check with my daughter to make sure Al is taking good care of me…..he is!  I’m stubborn, but he does as much as I let him do.

Now to her well earned title…….The Queen……in most retirement or assisted living facilities, they will choose a king and queen.  I’m not sure what all goes along with the title, but they get to ride in a parade!  Last year, Joan was chosen as Queen of the Embers.  She got to ride in the parade, and from what the kids tell me, she was ordering people to “bow down.”  I can’t help but laugh, because I can picture it!  Recently, a little girl was introduced to The Queen.  She asked if she was the Queen of Iowa, and my daughter told her yes!  And you know what?  She is!  Beautiful, funny, kind, gracious, friendly, salty, and compassionate……what other qualities do you need in a queen?

Here’s to The Queen!  I love you Joan!

 

 

Anxiety, Attitude Adjustments, Be Happy, Be Kind, Being Strong, Bewitched, Busy Minds, Civil Rights, Compassion, Coping, Courage, Empowerment, Family, Fear, Focus, Happiness, Insensitivity, Invisible Illness, Just Breathe, Kindness, Laughter, Laughter is the best medicine, Life Happens.....Make the Best Of It!, Loneliness, Love, Loyalty, Making life interesting, Manners, Misconceptions, Passion for Living, Peaceful Protests, Racism, Rejection, Relationships, Respect, Self respect, Support, Thankfulness, That's life, Tom Jones, Uncategorized, Understanding

Hocus Focus

I’ve had a bit of writer’s block lately.  Part of it is because I have a hard time typing with a brace on my wrist. Part of it is just because I’ve been a bit distracted with a few things lately.  I start to write, and I find myself not wanting to finish the topic because I get worried how some people might react.  I try to keep my posts positive, and try to inspire people to do their best, while maybe sharing some experiences from my life, or funny stories.  I know I shouldn’t worry about that, because I know if I’m doing the best I can, that’s all that matters.  I have a level of sarcastic humor that not everyone gets, but I can’t worry about that either.  I’ll try to give you an idea of what my mind has been like lately….

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is today……let’s keep moving forward.  Even my 1st graders think racism is awful.

Broken wrists suck.

Vertigo sucks.

I have a secret crush on Tom Jones.

Migraines suck.

Free movie passes are great.

I, Tonya was a good movie.

Catch the movie, Mudbound on Netflix……eye opening, and should tug at everyone’s heart.  Let’s not ever go back to that. Mary J. Blige does an excellent job in it.

I love Kansas City at Christmas.

I love warm weather.

My dog is the sweetest, snuggled next to me as I type this.

The Vikings had an awesome game yesterday, and I hope they go all the way, especially for my best friend’s sake…..she loves them!

Some people really take advantage, and are attention whores.

I would never have the nerve to set up a Go Fund Me account for myself…….

Therefore, medical bills and trying to get by through this really sucks.

Donald Trump sucks.  Yep.  I said it!

What happened to manners?

Why can’t people respect your time and your finances?  It’s not up to anyone else how you spend these things, and if you have the time or money for something.  I would never tell someone, “You have time for this,” or “You can afford that.”  No one’s energy level is the same as someone else’s, and no one knows what your financial obligations are.

A man complimented me in the elevator in the medical building for the boots I had on….then he asked if that was okay because he wasn’t sure it was acceptable….compliments should always be acceptable.

Work/teaching is exhausting.

Trying to get my foot in the door with real estate is next to impossible while teaching full time.  Taking my post license course now.

I don’t like one of my medical specialists…….at all.

Sometimes no matter how nice you are to people, they just won’t like you.  Be nice anyway, but protect yourself.  You can’t make them care.  Their actions will show you how they feel.  Be kind.

Seizures suck.

My family is wonderful.

I don’t get to see a lot of Al this time of year because he works at lot with youth basketball, so we spent today together.  He helped me with groceries and put gas in my car…..helping me with that wrist thing.

My kids are great…..and goofy, and I worry about them all the time.

Social anxiety can be crippling……try to smile and get through it.  I feel it every day.

Youth basketball games are fun to watch, especially when they’re scrappy little kids.

Some people are heartless.

I’m addicted to reruns of Bewitched.

Spring and summer need to get here soon. I need summer now!

So you can see……my mind is all over the place…..writer’s block, because I can’t focus on anything.  Not feeling bad or depressed….I’m just overwhelmed with a lot right now, so my mind is a busy place.  I wonder if I have adult ADD to add to the list of conditions? Maybe if I am able to reduce the stress in my life and get the rest I need, I can focus!  For now, I will rely on exercise and meditation (and Bewitched) to get me through!

I hope you all have had a great Martin Luther King Jr Day.  Did you do anything to give back? I didn’t this year.  I just don’t have the energy.  My justification for this is that I give back each day when I walk into my classroom. Every teacher does……

Get focused! Now back to studying….

 

 

 

 

Attitude Adjustments, Be Happy, Be Kind, Being Strong, Coping, Courage, Egos, Emotions, Get Over Yourself, Happiness, Laughter, Laughter is the best medicine, Making life interesting, Passion for Living, Shit happens, Thankfulness, That's life, The Unexpected, Uncategorized

Life Happens…..Make the Best Of It!

Strange things happen to me.  It’s always been like that, especially as an adult.  No matter how odd, I try to always see the humor in it, and make fun of myself.  As I write this, I have a splint on my left arm, breaking my wrist after falling in my bedroom a few nights ago.  Excuse any typos, if I miss them.  It’s taking me forever to type this!

Sometimes I feel like I’m in a sitcom, but someone forgot to tell me that I’m the star!  When I was about 6 months pregnant with my oldest daughter, I fainted at the grocery store.  I happened to be in the baby aisle, and had just picked up a package of diapers (always planning ahead).  The next thing I knew, I was on my back, looking up, with store employees looking down at me, offering to call someone.  My feet were propped up on the diapers I had just picked up!  I was really embarrassed, but could laugh about it then and now!

A year or so after that, I went to the store, and because I lived in a cold climate, I had to walk through two sets of automatic double doors to get into the store.  I walked through the first set, completely expecting the next set to open.  They didn’t.  I stopped and waited.  The first set of doors closed behind me.  I pushed on the next doors, and they wouldn’t open.  I tried to go back out, and those doors wouldn’t open either.  I was stuck in the little entryway, between the two sets of doors!  I knocked on the doors to get someone’s attention, and some boys came over to help…..but they didn’t know what to do.  The doors were stuck.  I was stuck.  Other customers were trying to get in.  I told them I couldn’t open the doors.  Some of them acted annoyed with me, as I paced in the entryway, like a zoo animal!  The store employees told the other customers to go around to the other doors, while they got a manager to figure out what to do.  They ended up getting an electrician, and it all turned out okay…..except, I left without getting the items I went in to get in the first place because I was too embarrassed to stay!  But now I laugh….

Another time I walked to my car in a parking lot, and found a bird sitting on my gear shift…inside my car!  I left my sun roof open, and I guess he decided he needed to take a little rest in my car for a few minutes.  The dancing and screaming that followed, while I opened all the doors and tried to shoo him out must have been comical to other people in the parking lot, but I was ready to have a nervous breakdown!  Now I can laugh…..

I’ve had lizards land on my windshield while I’m driving, frogs land on my feet, bugs crawl in my cleavage while I’m at lunch with my mother in-law, stepped on mice, climbed a tree to rescue a stuck ball, but couldn’t get back down, got my finger stuck in a Coke bottle, and the list goes on and on and on!

Now I’m dealing with things that cause other weird things to happen.  Recently, I had a seizure in a crowded restaurant.  That was embarrassing, but I’m able to laugh about it….my kids are having fun teasing me about it, and what triggers them, even though it’s scary.  When I fell in the middle of the night last weekend, I think I may have had a seizure because I felt disoriented and confused.  It was dark, and I lost my balance.  I knew it hurt, but I was tired, and wanted to go back to bed!  So I did.  When I woke up later, I realized I really was hurt, and my wedding ring was stuck on my finger.  Oops!  Well, I still say that sleep is more important than getting x-rays.  I haven’t slept well since, so maybe getting that extra couple of hours wasn’t such a dumb idea after all.  My balance is off, so I bump into things.  I laughed at myself when I bumped into the wall at work yesterday.  I know I must look like the town drunk at times, but it’s just me!

Things happen.  Funny things, weird things, happy things, sad things, scary things…..just make the best of it.  Laugh at yourself.  Have a sense of humor.  Don’t be so full of yourself or vain that you can’t make the best of every situation.  My sisters and I even managed to laugh our way through a funeral once…..I’m not proud of that, but it made it memorable, and I’m pretty sure our deceased loved one would have understood the circumstances.  Try to make the best of every situation.

“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor,”  Charles Dickens

 

Attitude Adjustments, Be Happy, Be Kind, Being Strong, Compassion, Coping, Courage, Emotions, Family, Happiness, Holiday Spirit, Holidays, Kindness, Laughter, Laughter is the best medicine, Love, Memories, Negativity, Passion for Living, Relationships, Self respect, Thankfulness, That's life, Togetherness, Uncategorized

Love and Laughter in 2018

Happy 2018!  Last night, we returned from a whirlwind trip to Kansas City, where we spent the week with my family for the first time in years.  It really was a great time, even if it was cold, busy and chaotic.  That’s kind of the way my family is during the holidays….. NOT cold, but busy and chaotic!  Laughter, kids, memories, and constant activity is pretty much the norm for us.

My family is big……maybe not big by some people’s standards, but my parents were each one of 5 children, and I am also one of 5 (all girls).  My parents have 11 grandchildren, a few of them have spouses, and there is one great grandchild (my grandson). My daughter’s boyfriend has 2 children, who only added to the fun!  My sister also had two other guests, who were visiting from Japan, and they added to the fun and laughter.  Between all of the people, 2 dogs, the great food, cousins leg wrestling on the family room floor, Nerf gun fights, building train tracks on the floor, pretending to cook (and eat) the Fisher Price food, and our excursions into the city to visit the Nelson Atkins Museum (Picasso, Monet, Pollock, Warhol, etc), Union Station, Crown Center, ice skating (just the kids….not me!),  breakfast with my aunt and nieces, Al and I going out with a childhood friend of mine, and Al going out for a jazz night at Plaza III with our brother in-law, it was a packed few days!  The cold temps didn’t stop the fun!  My family welcomes everyone, and treats everyone with love and acceptance, if they are willing to put up with our noise and silliness!  This is really the first time Al has had a chance to spend any real time with a lot of my family.  He got to see first hand how loving and accepting they are.

I thought back on times when my sisters and our families would all gather at my parents each year (either on Thanksgiving or Christmas).  At times, there might be around 23 of us packed into their little ranch home in Springfield, Missouri.  Noise, laughter, children, food, games, movies, sports on TV, and just spending time together laughing and reminiscing was such fun.  Or the times when we would gather at my grandmother’s house in Wichita with all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins……times change, families grow, and loved ones leave us eventually…….but no one can take my memories.

2017 was not easy on me in a lot of ways.  I’ve tried to stay positive, and grateful for all I have, even when I’m physically struggling.  My first trip to Europe, which I was so looking forward to, turned out to be very hard because of a lot of the physical problems I was having, without knowing what was wrong with me.  I tried to do what I could, but I ended up spending a lot of time unable to enjoy a lot of it.  Once we got back, and I got a diagnosis (a benign brain tumor, called an acoustic neuroma), I had to figure out a lot of things.  I dove into information, trying to learn all I could about it.  But mostly, I counted my blessings.  It could have been a lot worse.  My emotions went into overdrive……I can cry at the drop of a pin, and I have a few unpleasant symptoms that are the new normal for me, but I started appreciating things I hadn’t even noticed before!  I also told myself I would not waste time on people or things that were negative or tried to drain my happiness.

I’ve had a lot of hard times in my life, but I’ve also had a lot of very happy times.  My big family has provided so many happy moments for me, and the memories of the love and laughter keep me going.  I always try to stay positive and not let negativity bring me down, but that seems so much more important now.  So, like every year, I will vow to keep my chin up, stay positive, be nice, friendly, compassionate, and happy.  Even though I have been presented with a new obstacle, it doesn’t change my outlook on life.  It may be a new year, but it’s the same love and appreciation that I always strive for.

The important things in life are love, loved ones, laughter, memories, and good health.  Laugh and learn to enjoy everything you have.  Cut out the negativity and negative people who don’t love you back, don’t care about you, or don’t appreciate you.  Stay positive.  Stay happy.  Enjoy the chaos and laughter in life.  Don’t waste time sitting around getting old. I’m so thankful I come from a family who loves to laugh and have fun…..it keeps us young and healthy!

It’s great to be home where it’s a little warmer, but I have some great new memories of this trip, and of my big family and friends.   Happy New Year, and here’s to a fun 2018, filled with love and laughter……curing all that ails us!